Detroit Schools to defer employee contract talks

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Detroit — The Detroit Public Schools will defer the opening of collective bargaining discussions with unions until after state lawmakers take action on the district’s enormous debt.

The district says seven of its eight collective bargaining agreements expire June 30.

But state-appointed emergency manager and former bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes says Thursday “it will be more productive to begin the negotiations” after all sides understand what resources will be available.

In a statement Thursday, Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey called Rhodes’ decision “a disappointment to the educators, school support staff, students, families and the entire city of Detroit.

“While we realize legislative action is necessary for Detroit Public Schools to be financially viable, there are many other issues impacting the education of our students that we should be discussing.”

The district has been under continuous state control since 2009. A $717 million plan OK’d by the Senate would keep the old district to retire the schools’ debt and create a new district to educate students, while House Republicans have come up with a $500 million proposal.

Bailey also described the Senate legislation as “far from ideal, but it goes a long way toward improving the lives of students, parents and educators in Detroit. These bills maintain our collective voice and give us the ability to continue our advocacy for the schools our kids deserve.”